Altered States: The Campaign Against John Huntsman

I'm beginning to think there is an alternate reality United States out there where John Huntsman is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and Obama's minions' are desperately spreading inside information about him as a preemptive move to damage him before the primaries even start. (also in this alternate reality, Obama has a beard). How else to explain the seemingly endless stories from administration insiders about what a team player Huntsman was back when he was ambassador to China?:
I'll be honest, the first time I ever heard of Huntsman was when he was nominated to the Chinese embassy post. He barely registers in GOP primary polling. He has no national constituency to speak of. OK, he was governor of Utah, which is a conservative state, but he doesn't seem to have had a conservative record. Not only that, Utah voters have shown themselves to be rather restive regarding the demerits in their local politicos' bona fides. They've already sent Bob Bennett packing, and are threatening to do the same to Orrin Hatch. Want to bet Huntsman would have a Tea Party problem right about now if he was still in office?

The Obama team's approach to this is hard to fathom. I remember being bemused at the analysis at the time Huntsman was named to the Beijing post, which mostly focused on how the sophisticated political operatives in the White House had deftly undercut a potential GOP rival by packing him off to Beijing. Sheesh! Did he get there via a clipper ship voyage around Cape Horn? Does the diplomatic pouch from China travel by carrier pigeon? Is the the real action at the embassy in Ouagadougou? Did they honestly think he would just disappear for four years, like a Khartoum viceroy?

The point is, if you want to get rid of a guy, you don't send him out on a high profile posting to the rising power in the Pacific Rim. Want to get rid of a GOP rival? Set a honey trap (or a vinegar one, if you are Larry Craig) or send an FBI informant to his office with a wire and a briefcase full of cash.

Of course, Huntsman's approach is equally mystifying. I'd like to know the name on one Republican aspirant to the presidency who held a post in a Democratic administration during the time immediately preceding his presidential run. And, Huntsman comes across as a real Charlie Crist-type: a telegenic "moderate" who looks good on paper, but will caucus with Democrats if he thinks that will advance his career. Obama's got a lot to worry about, but facing off against John Huntsman in November 2012 shouldn't cause him to break into a sweat.

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